DÁFNI Wild Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are a crucial part of Greek cuisine and are used in cooking for their distinctive fragrance and flavor. They are commonly used in fish dishes, meats, vegetables, soups, stews, marinades, sauces and even custards. Laurel trees grow wild on the mountainsides around our family groves, so we are able to handpick and select every single bay leaf, guaranteeing one of the highest quality products on the market. After picking, the leaves are air dried and shipped to us as they attain peak flavor. Proper drying is essential. The fragrance of dried bay leaves is slightly floral and herbal, somewhat similar to thyme and oregano.
Laurel trees that grow wild have significantly higher essential oil content than cultivated trees. An average whole bay leaf contains approximately 2% essential oil, and DÁFNI Bay Leaves boast an impressive 7.5%. For this reason they are extremely potent and you will certainly notice the difference when you inhale their intense aroma.
Cooking with Bay Leaves
Bay leaves, also known as Sweet Bay or Sweet Laurel, are slightly bitter and strongly aromatic leaves that can dramatically enhance the taste and smell of your meals. They have a pungent, sharp bitter taste if eaten whole and the fragrance is more noticeable in cooked foods. DÁFNI Bay Leaves can bring together multiple flavors and give your dish a rich and distinct flavor you are sure to love. They are also commonly used as an ingredient in Bouquet Garni, a classic herb combination using parsley and thyme. Traditionally, these fresh herbs are tied together, added to a dish, allowed to simmer, and then lifted out at the end of cooking. Bay Leaves are also used in lentil soup, tomato sauces, stocks, seafood, pâtés, and braises. In contrast to the majority of leaf spices, they can be cooked for a prolonged time without losing their aroma. Another option is to crush or grind the bay leaves before cooking. You will gain more of the desired fragrance than whole bay leaves, but they are somewhat difficult to remove. Often they are used in a tea infuser or muslin bag. Or you can just simply use the ground bay leaves in your food without removal, but it is going to be much stronger, and sometimes the texture isn’t desirable.
Caution: After cooking, the bay leaves remain very stiff and may pose a risk of scratching the digestive tract or cause choking if swallowed. This is why most recipes will recommend their removal after the cooking process has finished.
Medicinal & Other Uses
The Bay leaf’s uses reach far beyond the kitchen. This unique leaf has been used since ancient times to treat high blood sugar, rheumatism, bacterial and fungal infections, and gastric ulcers. The Bay leaf has also been used as an herbal remedy for headaches and even migraines. They contain compounds called parthenolides, which aid in the treatment of migraine headaches. Mycene can be extracted from the bay leaf, a component used in many essential oils used in perfumes. Eugenol is also an essential oil bay leaves contain, having a spicy, pleasant, clove-like aroma. Along with flavoring, it is also used in perfumes and in medicines as a local antiseptic and anesthetic.